Starter: Jonathan Taylor | Wisconsin
One of just four players to run for over 2,000 yards last season, Taylor proved to be a do-it-all running back that looked at times like Wisconsin’s only means of offense.
Taylor showed that his team could lean on him as a bell cow without worry, though. The junior running back was tasked with 320 carries over 14 games but turned those touches into gold with 21 touchdowns in addition to his 2,003 rushing yards.
Taylor wasn’t a one-trick pony either. He also showed value as a pass-catcher, with 26 receptions and five touchdowns through the air. Some draft experts are concerned about how the heavy workload will affect his NFL longevity, but those reps helped establish Taylor as college football’s most productive running back.
Backup: J.K. Dobbins | Ohio State
I don’t know that I think about Dobbins as Taylor’s backup on this list, more like, Dobbins is the 1B to Taylor’s 1A. A look at their stat sheets shows that each of these players was equally dominant and eerily similar in college.
Both Dobbins and Taylor ran for 21 touchdowns. Both Dobbins and Taylor ran for 2,003 yards. Taylor had just 19 more carries than Dobbins, but Dobbins had only three fewer receptions than Taylor. A very sound argument could be made in favor of Dobbins as the starter, but I give the nod to Taylor for the team’s reliance on his efforts, plus Taylor’s five receiving touchdowns compared to Dobbins’ two.
But no matter how you look at it, Dobbins was an elite player in college with the high-end production to net a few first-round projections. He was awesome at Ohio State, and some lucky NFL team will hope he can be awesome for them as well.